They hadn't been aware of this, and so I guess my friend isn't either (bloody slack me). So I have penned her a letter, and I'm writing this blog post.
I'd led a very sheltered life and so was quite naive right into my 20s. Add to this low self-confidence, and a girl more used to being mates with guys than sleeping with them, and that's me.
A few things happened within a short period of time to change me, or at least find another side of me. One of those things was going out with a bunch of confident girls. They changed me, and how I saw myself - even though a couple of nasty people had said they only went out with me so they looked more attractive. Sometimes friendship can overcome nastiness :)
One of these confident girls was, well, let's call her Samantha because she was one of the people in my head when I created Sam in Deep Diving. My friend Samantha is not a small girl, definitely no size 8. But she needed to be her size for her chosen sport, at which she worked hard to succeed. And she did succeed, winning an Olympic Gold medal, as well as other Aussie and world championship medals, etc. Sam, my friend, was confident - with her work, in herself, with men.
In the opening scene in my book, Sam wolf whistles at Cooper as she follows him along a beach. My friend would do things like that - sit down and start talking to a famous sports star at the airport bar, pick up the male model at an event, spend the weekend with royalty. Fame, fortune and looks are no barrier to her. She treats everyone alike, and well.
With her, sex wasn't something to be ashamed of - it was to be celebrated. Something that everyone does and should do - and should do well!! She exalted in it - and telling the tales to her friends. She was never embarrassed. It was fun, an adventure, an awesome moment in time. Even bad sex was discussed and laughed over.
She was a revelation. I was in awe.
Years later when I began writing, I told her that I'd write her as a heroine. She laughed and told me she just needed her happy ending. She wasn't embarrassed that I wrote romance, she thought it was awesome.
When I began writing a sexually active, kick ass heroine, the romance world wasn't ready for that. 10 years ago, we were told that heroines had to be virginal, or at least not proud of being non-virginal. That wasn't any heroine I wanted to write. My heroines needed to be proud of sex, proud of themselves, and enjoying life. So I branched into the erotic...I felt better here.
And a couple of books in, I had the confidence to weave a story where the heroine was somewhat similar to my friend. A confident women who wasn't afraid to have sex. A woman who understood sport, competition and striving to be the best. A woman I wanted to have as my friend.
Sitting at my friend's wedding, I was so moved by all the confident kick-ass women there. Women who were having fun, celebrating with her, teary-eyed that she'd achieved her happiness and another of her goals. It was one of the most inspiring weddings I've been to...and I think that's because of the bride - my friend.
And damn, I was so proud to be there. To be among those she called friend.
Do you have a friend who's your hero?